Thanks soultcer for talking with the Freenode staffer. Good to know it's OK at the current size, and now they know who we are. They're supportive of projects like TOR so I hope they would probably be friendly to us. We don't want to overstay our welcome. If we get too big, then by the same token, we're big enough that we don't need IRC anymore and we'll get off.
We only needed IRC because nobody had a static IP. In the early days there were some steady supporters, but they all had pool-allocated IPs that change every few days. IRC was only intended as a temporary solution. Bitcoin's built-in addr system is the main solution.
Bitcoin can get the list of IPs from any bitcoin node. In that sense, every node serves as a directory server.
When there are enough static IP nodes to have a good chance that at least one will still be running by the time the current version goes out of use, we can preprogram a seed list.
How do you think we should compile the seed list? Would it be OK to create it from the currently connected IPs that have been static for a while?
BTW, if we want to supplement by deploying separate directory server software, may I suggest IRC? IRC is a good directory server (I've heard it has other uses too), and there are mature IRC server implementations available that anyone can run. Bitcoin's IRC client implementation is already thoroughly tested.